By Suma Varughese
An experience of choiceless awareness with Rajesh Dalal, a long-time associate of J. Krishnamurti
Rajesh Dalal, who has spent 10 years with J Krishnamurti, and whose method echoes Krishnamurti’s, was in Mumbai a few months ago and in the process of interviewing him, I experienced a small satori. When Rajesh asked me what stopped me from being in the moment, I responded that my thoughts did. He took up a glass and held it between me and a windowpane before us. “Let us assume that your thoughts are the glass and that window pane is the thoughtless state. Suppose you were to drop the idea of getting to the windowpane, will you still have a problem with the glass? Why not simply pay attention to your thoughts?”
Something shifted inside me. “I see,” I said slowly, and I really did see.
I owe Krishnamurti and Rajesh Dalal my profound gratitude. I am now getting more comfortable with the contents of my thoughts as I am learning to let go of wanting to be in the opposite state to the one I experience. As Krishnamurti once put it, “Jealousy is. The opposite is not.”
Rajesh Dalal graduated in chemical engineering in 1975 from IIT, Kanpur. He had come across Krishnamurti’s teachings in 1971 and had the good fortune of becoming intimately acquainted with him a few years later. Eschewing a career, Rajesh devoted himself to inner inquiry and to travels with Krishnamurti for the next 10 years. He was made a trustee of the Krishnamurti Foundation and held important executive posts within it. Today, he has resigned from all posts and devotes himself to the single task of human transformation. A stocky person at 57, Rajesh is clear that he is not a teacher, merely a friend. Excerpts from the interview:
The capacity to be choicelessly aware (a favourite phrase of Krishnamurti’s) is an aspect of the enlightened mind and requires tremendous psychic energy. How many can do this?
For moments or brief periods, any one can easily observe the fact. Most people do. But then we twist the fact to suit our desires and fears, prejudices and tradition. If we are honest we can see this too. It is not so difficult.
Sustained honesty and deep investigation, of course, requires enormous inner energy. It comes when you honestly observe ‘pretence’, within and without, and see how dangerous it is, to living life simply, creatively and fearlessly. Then there is growing interest in Truth and that gives the energy to investigate at greater depth.
We must face the fact without condemnation or justification that we don’t have the necessary energy, that we are rather slow, rather dull, and are unable to swiftly move with life. This creates a crisis – the true impetus for change.
Why was Krishnamurti, and why are you, against spiritual practice?
It will not be right for me to speak on behalf of Krishnamurti. I myself am not for or against practices. I enquire. What is practice? It is doing something repeatedly because that action is seen to have a certain beneficial effect, is it not? We all have practices – personal practices to ensure health and hygiene, office and home practices, safety practices and so on. Such practices are necessary to bring about enhanced skills, qualities, products, etc. However, it is important to bring a self-critical quality when one is involved with any practice – whether it has validity and value and to what extent?
Now what is spiritual practice? Does it not point to an individual who feels limited, incomplete and wants some kind of projected result of peace or quiet mind, enlightenment, awareness or some such thing? By adopting certain physical and mental postures and repeatedly following certain methods, one hopes to come upon the opposite of that we are dissatisfied with. At the end of the practice one measures how far one is from the goal. The result one wants to achieve and the practice one chooses are based on one’s present knowledge of what is right and beneficial. All practice is based on knowledge, hope for a result and involves time and measurement.
Is this a fact or not? If it is, then there is a fundamental issue here. Is not spirituality about transcending thought, time and measurement and to come upon the timeless and the immeasurable? Also peace, goodness and love are intrinsic to the dynamic movement of life. Must we continuously make effort to be good? What is more important – to continue to make effort in whatever name and to justify it; or to pause from ‘effort-making’ and to observe the ‘effort-maker’ and to explore the source of effort-making?
But spiritual practice down the ages has enabled thousands of people to become enlightened.
I doubt if thousands have become enlightened. You can easily observe that there is a great deal of exaggeration and distortion in all traditions. Of course, there would have been a few, who have really been transformed. I am not saying that nobody has changed fundamentally. But I question if that change was the result of the specific practices they were doing or was brought about by their seeing the ultimate futility of all practice!
To me it is clear that giving importance to doing, to activity – devotional, intellectual, physical, meditational – is in the ultimate analysis just postponement. Only when the attachment to doing ends there can be peace. ‘Through dependence on something, I will eventually get freedom’ is a myth.
It took 17 years of spiritual practice for me to reach a stage today where I feel I do not need to go anywhere. But I needed those 17 years to get here.
What is happening now is important, Suma, not the 17 years. If we look at the ‘now’ from the perspective of the ‘past’, the past gets justified through that. Then a complacent attitude creeps in and the self continues subtly. Instead, if we look at the past with the eyes of the now, the past will be seen to be made of countless immature errors and illusions, with occasional insights that broke the pattern! We will then be more alert, more humble.
But why stop people from entering a path? After all, they need to start somewhere.
I am neither stopping nor encouraging people from following any path. I am just showing the implications and leaving them to do what they feel they must do. Mostly, we are identified with the path in which we have invested our time and energy and do not want to see anything that may show its limitation. So we sincerely practise the wrong note!! We do not learn and change instantly.
So where do you fit what you do?
I am observing with you, as a friend, what is taking place in us and in the world and we are exploring the pertinent questions that are arising. In that if there is an insight then that brings about a change. I am not suggesting that there is some good idea to be practised every day. Or do this and beneficial results will follow.
Why would anyone do anything if they don’t want results?
In certain areas results are important. I must eat nourishing food to have strength. We must have certain industrial practices to not pollute the planet and so on. There are many areas where we do things in order to get desired results. But surely the whole of life can’t be tied down to seeking results. I don’t breathe with the idea that it is going to keep me alive. I don’t love my wife or son with the idea that they will look after me in the future. I don’t open my eyes with the idea that I might see something of value. Breathing, seeing, listening, caring IS part and parcel of living. Results happen but are not central to the act.
To observe what is happening, within and without, is central to daily living. If we don’t observe, we are blind. And too much focus on results, in our education, has made us blind. We are so focussed on wanting gain and avoiding loss that finer aspects of life such as simplicity, affection, sensitivity, love are getting neglected. So let us work for the sake of work and not for material rewards like bonuses. Observe for the sake of observing .
But what do we do with what is preventing us from experiencing life? I, for one, am not fully in the moment because my thoughts keep disturbing me.
Have we made ‘being fully in the moment’ into a good idea? Are we clinging to that idea and measuring ourselves with it? Is that coming in the way?
Also, what is wrong with disturbance? Why do we think, there should be no disturbance? The fact is that human beings are getting disturbed in countless ways. A job is lost, trust is betrayed, there is death in the family, genocide in society. We want to live a life where we are never disturbed. So we look for so-called spiritual paths and practices to free us from disturbance. This kind of spirituality is false and weakening, I feel.
As long as we believe that disturbance is bad, we will never be able to look at what gets disturbed and whether it can ever remain ‘undisturbed’? Could disturbance be life’s way of bringing us closer to its dynamic energy? Life, in its compassion, may appear very tough. It disturbs everything that is false and illusory that we may be clinging to, out of ignorance. It may even block all habitual escapes of the mind so that an explosion can happen.
Is this explosion permanent?
When you have a taste of the explosive energy, life is never the same. And then nothing gradual and time-bound will suffice. A quiet inward revolution has been set into motion, which goes on deepening. It has its own momentum and intelligence. It is as if a restless, ceaseless energy, a kind of divine discontent, has entered into you. It is like a stream flowing naturally, creating its own path.
Can you experience this when the mind is in thought?
Occupation with thought is what we live in. What is wrong with thinking? Why not pay attention to thought? Once you do that, thought is not a distraction; it is neither good nor bad. Paying attention is independent of objects; it is beyond them. Attention can shift from object to object and still it is attention. When one sees that ‘paying attention’ is different from the field of ‘getting results’, and it is beyond that field, the hold of thought weakens. But if one makes ‘paying attention’ into an idea and tries to pay attention for the beneficial result one hopes to get, one enters the field of contradiction and conflict. In attention, the mind is quiet and at peace and gathers energy. Trying to be attentive is a dissipation of energy. It sounds complex but it is really simple to observe all this in our daily life.
On what does attention depend?
It does not depend on any thing. It sustains itself naturally, out of love of life. Young children naturally look at birds, plants, insects and even themselves with attention. Peace and joy are by products of attention. But we have neglected attention as a way of life. We have emphasised only concentration, since it is profitable and enables us to accumulate and achieve whatever we want to. We want to be somebody, go somewhere, materially and spiritually. We are afraid to end all that and observe the totality of our nature. Such observation strips us of all things. We are afraid to be stripped. We don’t want to be ‘nobody’.
Apparently we do not realise that to be NO BODY, ‘not be a body’, means a being that inwardly has no form, no fixity, no position, and no limitation. Some other names for this state are – ‘openness’, ‘freedom’ and ‘spirit’. The true spiritual life begins with this and ‘Love’ is expression of this spirit.
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